What’s the first thing you think of when resolving to get into shape? Likely it involves how many pounds you want to lose. Next, you might start to think about counting calories. After that, you might consider how many hours you need to spend in the gym each week. Though these might be common thoughts when it comes to weight loss, they may not be helping the cause. In fact, our obsession with numbers can actually stand in the way of our health and fitness goals.
Numbers on the Scale
When on a mission to get healthy, people often become transfixed by the number on the scale; obsessively calculating how many pounds were lost between breakfast and dinner. It becomes the most important thing, affecting motivation, energy and even mood. The truth is, how many pounds you lose or gain isn’t always the most important number to focus on when working to get healthy. Nick McNaught, nutritional expert and owner of Toronto’s premiere meal delivery service, Fuel Foods, explains, “I do not focus on numbers on the scale...I rely on other measures, like body fat composition, strength tests, endurance tests, and most importantly, how you look and feel when looking in the mirror.”Executive weight loss specialist, Adele Tevlin, agrees, saying, “when working with clients I focus on their measurements and inches as well as how they are feeling, their sleeping patterns and their overall energy levels as we work together to get them healthier. My focus is always more on inches lost as that's a truer sign of health.”
We’ve been told time and again, it’s all about calories in, and calories out. This can lead to a counting frenzy with dieters aiming to eat only the foods with the fewest number of calories. But it turns out all that mealtime math may not be paying off. When our sole focus is on calories, we lose focus on the things that are far more important like nutrients and sustainable energy. Sure, those rice snacks might be low in calories but will they keep you going as long as say, chicken and rice? Or, will they lead to more mindless, empty calories later on? Nick weighs in, explaining, “The content and choice of calorie source is not irrelevant. Even if you are counting your calories, calories from different foods will affect your body differently. Nutrients, vitamins, and other factors should be taken into account as well.”
Another common misconception that we’ve been inundated with when it comes to weight management is: more hours in the gym equals better results. But, scientifically speaking that is simply not the case. According to Adele, “More exercise is not always better. It can cause adrenal fatigue and spikes in cortisol, which can actually lead to weight gain if not balanced with a proper diet.” McNaught explains further, “The success rate and results do not continue to increase the more and more you go to the gym. Over-training and neglecting rest are common issues with people seeing results.”